Negligent Treatment to a Senile Patient

In Walker v. State (1982), 35 Ill. Ct. Cl. 583, the Court found that the State failed to use due care in rendering treatment to a senile patient, that the State's negligence was a proximate cause of patient's escape and subsequent injury when he jumped from an unlocked third story window as the evidence showed that the Respondent's personnel were aware of the patient's tendency to escape and security measures to prevent escape were not adopted. The patient in Walker was 76 years of age. He was admitted to the Illinois Public Health Hospital in Chicago with a diagnosis of senile and confused. He was placed on the fifth floor geriatric unit. The patient attempted several times to leave the facility by the elevator. The hospital was warned by the patient's family that the patient must be watched carefully as he had a tendency to run away. Later the patient was missing. The patient was found lying on the ground outside the hospital's east windows. One window was open and the blinds torn. The window had no lock, bars or protective screen. The claimant in Walker, supra, called an expert witness who testified that it was foreseeable that a confused geriatric patient with a longing to go home might be able to leave the ward. The expert also testified that the security system at the hospital was inadequate, relying too much on human control and not enough on mechanization. He further testified other facilities had a much higher degree of mechanized security. The Court found that the injury to the patient was foreseeable.